James Potts acts for Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in case on public interest exception to arbitral confidentiality

James Potts acted for The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) in its successful application for documents from the court file in an arbitration claim and a declaration that the documents can be used for the purposes of disciplinary proceedings against one of CIArb’s members.

The case concerned an arbitrator who resigned after his conduct of an arbitration was found (in an application for his removal under s.24(1)(a) of the Arbitration Act 1996) to raise the real possibility of apparent bias. CIArb wished to obtain documents from the arbitration proceedings to use in its disciplinary proceedings against the arbitrator. However, consent for CIArb to obtain and use the documents was not forthcoming from one of the parties to the arbitration.

The Court of Appeal has acknowledged a number of exceptions to arbitral confidentiality, but previously declined to decide whether these included a “public interest” exception: Ali Shipping Corporation v Shipyard Trogir [1991] 1 WLR 214, Emmott v Michael Wilson & Partners Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 184.

Mrs Justice Moulder found that it was both in the public interest and in the interests of justice for CIArb to be able to use the documents in the disciplinary proceedings, which support the general public interest in maintaining the quality and standards of arbitrators, particularly given that arbitration is a quasi-judicial process.

The judgment can be found here.

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